Ready

Loaded with gallant soldiers,
A boat shot in to the land,
And lay at the right of Rodman's Point
With her keel upon the sand.

Lightly, gayly, they came to shore,
And never a man afraid;
When sudden the enemy opened fire
From his deadly ambuscade.

Each man fell flat on the bottom
Of the boat; and the captain said:
'If we lie here, we all are captured,
And the first who moves is dead!'

Then out spoke a negro sailor,
No slavish soul had he;
'Somebody's got to die, boys,
And it might as well be me!'

Firmly he rose, and fearlessly
Stepped out into the tide;
He pushed the vessel safely off,
Then fell across her side:

Fell, pierced by a dozen bullets,
As the boat swung clear and free;—
But there wasn't a man of them that day
Who was fitter to die than he!

by Phoebe Cary

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